It seems like it was a long time in coming once the news got out that this season would be an "All Stars" season. For the most part, I think the team choices were good. I don't care for a few of them and I'm ambivalent about others, but I generally understand the reason they're on the show.
Unlike other seasons of the show, tonight's season premiere was only an hour. That, in a way, was a good thing as golf (of all things) delayed its start here. (Don't get me going on that!) But, even with two hours, I often feel the first team out really doesn't get remembered. At least with the "All Star" format, we know the team. And, it's one of the ones about which I was ambivalent. Phew!
Tonight's premiere, whether due to the abbreviated hour-long version or not, didn't seem to cover as much ground as did previous premieres. The teams raced on boats to Miami, bringing about a comment from Ian (an ex-narcotics officer) about Miami Vice. They got into their nifty TAR-Mercedes cars and headed off to the airport. Since a few of the teams, especially Oswald and Danny, were familiar with the area, there was a lot of following without hesitation from the other teams.
There were two flights available heading to the teams' first destination of Ecuador, an American airlines flight which left twenty minutes after a Copa flight but arrived almost two hours earlier to their destination. The more quick-thinking teams thought to ask, but David and Mary just jumped on the tickets for the flight which left the earliest. This, of course, is after Mary said in the show's introduction, "I can win first place without anyone giving it to me."
I will give them credit for trying to be sneaky lying to the Beauty Queens (Dustin and Kandice) by telling them that's the quickest flight after they found out it wasn't. But Dustin and Kandice didn't fall for it and only ended up on the same flight as they were later to the airport. In the end, it didn't matter which flight folks were on as both the first place and Philiminated teams were on the American Airlines flight. It was what went on in between the airport and the Pit Stop which made the difference.
There was no Roadblock in this leg. If there had been one, I have my doubts that one of my favorite teams could have made it through it. Oh, my… the Frat Boys, in particular Drew, are not in shape. Drew was falling; Charla beat him in a footrace at one point. Ack! Sort of like Boo on Survivor 14: Fiji, Drew stands a chance to "hurt himself out of the race." I'd hate to see that happen as I really like Kevin and Drew.
Once the teams landed in Ecuador, they had to find Pim's Restaurant where they collected tags for their departure times. Those times were 7:00am, 7:15am, and 7:30am. Romber (Rob & Amber) was the first team there and most used locals to get to their destination. Ah, they remember their lessons learned, eh?
In the morning, the teams left at their fifteen-minute intervals. But once again, sometimes it doesn't matter when you leave. It's how you screw up in between destinations which makes the difference. They had to go to the north entrance of the Cotopaxi National Park. Some went to the south entrance. Some couldn't find the park.
Once there, the teams were given directions for a Detour — a choice between two tasks having to do with the local culture. They had a choice between "Wrangle It" or "Recover It." In Wrangle It, teams had to lasso a wild horse, trim its hooves, and cut its mane and tail. The horses were in a corralled area, so it wasn't like they had to go hunting for one.
But in Recover It, hunting was involved. One team member had to dress in a historical military uniform and search a field for three missing items from the uniform – a sword, an epaulet, and a button. Romber, in a rather unusually not-bright move for them, first chose Recover It, then switched over to Wrangle It once they realized they had to find a button in a huge field. That didn't hurt them any as they made quick work of the task despite their hesitance to go for an animals challenge.
After the completion of the Detour, teams had to walk (run) to the Pit Stop. Alas, while some teams were hitting the Pit Stop, still others were almost hopelessly behind. Charla/Mirna, David/Mary, Jill/John Vito were just plain old lost or misguided trying to find the right spot in the park. Drew and Kevin were lost and had bad luck in the form of a flat tire.
In the end, the finishing order to the Pit Stop was:
- Rob and Amber – They also won a skiing vacation at Whistler for coming in first.
- Oswald and Danny (You go, Cha Chas!)
- Teri and Ian (He wears funny hats.)
- Eric and Danielle
- Joe and Bill (Team Guido after their dog)
- Dustin and Kandice (Evil Beauty Queens not so evil tonight)
- Uchenna and Joyce
- Charla and Mirna
- David and Mary
- Kevin and Drew
- John Vito and Jill — Philiminated
Hmmm… I was so hyped to watch the show tonight that I ended up feeling a bit letdown. My adrenalin didn't pump as much as it should during a TAR episode. Don't get me wrong. It kept me entertained enough, I guess. It was good to see teams I enjoyed so much from their own seasons, like Kevin and Drew, the ChaChas and Team Guido (they set the standard for teams you love to hate on the show). I wasn't so upset that John and Jill went even though I always thought them to be nice folks. I would have preferred a Teri/Ian or Eric/Danielle boot, but at least it wasn't Kevin and Drew.
To me, something was off tonight. Perhaps it was the one-hour format or the fact they didn't travel a lot. Perhaps it was because you just can't go home again. I don't know. But I do know I'll be watching again next week.